THE cast of Bugsy Malone thought they would be left with more than custard pie in their faces after their leading man got stuck on a train from London on opening night.
But the show was saved when a replacement for gangster Fat Sam was drafted in from Leeds at the last minute—arriving at Rotherham Civic Theatre just 45 minutes before the first-night curtain went up.
Members of the Chapeltown Amateur Operatic Society—known as CAOS—were thrown into turmoil when star turn David Phillips called from London on Tuesday afternoon to say that all trains from King’s Cross had been delayed and he would not make it back in time for the 7.30pm performance.
But calls were made to the Guiseley Amateur Operatic Society, near Leeds, and Terry Ford, who had played Fat Sam in Guiseley’s production of the musical two months earlier, agreed to step in.
CAOS chairman Lee Brammer said: “Our first thoughts were that we would have to cancel the show. It was a terrible prospect on our first night.
“It was about 5.30pm when we reached Terry at work and we told him we needed his help.
“We said that we would pay for a taxi to Rotherham if he would agree to stand in.
Amazingly, he agreed to leave work and rush to our aid.”
The stand-in Sam took to the stage not knowing the set-up of scenes or his fellow cast members but, according to Lee, put in a sterling performance.
Lee added: “Terry was a hero. Coming into that situation must have been completely daunting—it had been two months since he had performed the role, after all—but he did a fantastic job.”
Terry, who has 18 years’ acting experience, admitted being “extremely nervous” before his first scene.
“It was all such a rush,” he said.
“I don’t know if my taxi driver was on steroids or what but he somehow got me from Leeds to Rotherham in 30 minutes and I was on stage before I knew it, trying to remember my lines. In the end, I think things went well, with a little help from the other cast members.
“We all felt pretty triumphant after the show and I think it has strengthened a bond between the Chapeltown and Guiseley groups.”
The Chapeltown group’s sidelined Sam, meanwhile, found himself delayed again on his journey home.
David said: “I had hoped to be back in time for the second half but, after reaching Doncaster after a three-hour train journey, I found that a car had broken down and was blocking the exit from the car park.
“It just wasn’t my night.”
David was finally able to enjoy his own opening night as Fat Sam on Wednesday. Bugsy Malone runs at the Civic until tomorrow.